It is a bit mind blowing that we are already approaching the end of the year! And though we’re only halfway through September, the holidays will be here before you know it. Here are a few ways that you can begin to prepare now for a stress-free holiday season.
Finalize Holiday Plans
Talk with your spouse to determine what your plans are regarding where the holidays will be spent. If both families live close by, this may be something that doesn’t need indepth planning. If holiday time needs to be divided between two families that live far away, the sooner you start finalizing plans, the better.
Maybe you have a set plan for alternating holidays or maybe Thanksgiving and Christmas between families. Either way, it’s best to make sure that you and your spouse are still on the same page.
Speak with your spouse and family members to determine now what your holiday plans are so that you can begin making travel arrangements and such. Also, planning so far in advance will help the hosting family to begin to make plans as well.
Create a Spending Budget
Now is a great time to go ahead and determine a budget for the holidays. If you haven’t been saving all year, you could open up a separate savings account to begin saving money towards those budgets. It is a good idea to make a separate budget for all of the end of year holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Each of these holidays will bring added monthly expenses. And if you have saved money to cover those expenses, it will put less financial strain on your budget. If you plan this far in advance you could have a garage sale, sell some stuff on Craig’s List or a Facebook garage sale sight, pick up a few side jobs or find other ways to make a little extra money to fund those budgets.
When setting your budget, be sure to make a list of EVERY expense you think you might incur. Some things to remember are:
- Halloween candy
- gift exchanges
- hostess gifts
- wrapping supplies
- holiday apparel
Be sure to check out my 5 tips for frugal gift giving.
Fall Cleaning and Organization
Spend some time during the beginning of the fall season focusing on cleaning and organizing your home. Clean out the closets, organize the garage, detail the car, and tackle other projects that may have been put off. Make sure that your holiday decorations are easily accessible and in good repair.
When the holidays roll around, your house will be tidy and inviting. Without the stress of clutter or a mile long to do list, you’ll be able to relax and fully enjoy the spirity of the holiday seasons. You will also be more willing to invite guests into your home for holiday gatherings when you know all your home needs is a quick straighten to be prepared for company.
Take a week to help your children purge their toys to make room for new items that will be received as gifts. Help them decide which toys are no longer played with and donate them or sell them.
You could even take the toys that are in great condition and set up a Santa’s Workshop closer to the holidays. Plan a time to gather around the table as a family to clean and repair toys. Then take the toys and give them to a family who is in need. Working together to give toys some TLC and talking with the children about the families you’ll donate them to will help your children focus on the spirit of giving for the holidays.
Family Photos & Cards
Even if the weather is still warm, you can schedule a fall or winter themed photo shoot with your family. Then go ahead and customize your Christmas cards. Order the cards several weeks before you normally would and that will give you more time to address them and prepare them to be mailed. It will be a relief to have one thing off of your plate as you approach your busy holiday months.
Better yet, skip Christmas cards and opt to send out New Year’s greetings instead.
Plan Family Activities
Sit down together as a family and create a holiday bucket list. Make plans for the activities you would like to do over the holidays this year. A few ideas would be visiting a pumpkin patch in October, volunteering at the food pantry for Thanksgiving, and caroling around your neighborhood for Christmas.
Planning these activities ahead of time will give you plenty of time to gather the supplies needed for the activity and make time in your family’s schedule to complete it. Organizing and scheduling your bucket list will enable your family to do more and share more meaningful time together throughout the holiday season.
The holidays should be a time of enjoyment and making memories, not stress. Take a moment to add any items to this list you can think of to lessen your load and help you soak in the festivities.